Heartworn Highways Review

Heartworn Highways is a documentary by the late Parisian James Szalapski, A then private dealer in twentieth century art, Szalapski was looking for something interesting to do with his hand-held home movie camera during an industry lull. It is also a restored and forgotten treasure re-released as a CD and this stellar DVD.

Originally a 1975 theatrical release, Szalapski was introduced by a group of up and coming “new country” renegades then taking the outlaw reins from the likes of Willie and Waylon.

Texans Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell and a young, skinny, and almost unrecognizable Steve Earle are all here. Guy Clark does a great version of his “L.A. “Freeway” and a mouth-watering version of “Texas Cookin.’ and Van Zandt brings a neighbor to tears with an impromptu rendition of “Waiting Around to Die.”

Other, mostly now forgotten performers like steel player Barefoot Jerry and comic performers like Gamble Rogers (who on October 10, 1991 trying to save a drowning stranger) sings the “Black Label Blues” while footage of a conveyer belt at Jack Danial’s distillery is shown, in case you didn’t get the reference. Larry Jon Wilson laying tracks for his own “Ohoopee River Bottomland” are all bona fide pleasure.

Davis Allen Coe is shown driving a tour bus and yakking it up on the CB Radio as well as playing a show at a prison adorned like a spangled Hillbilly Liberace. He may be crazy but he’s a great entertainer!

As I said before, the quality of the film is low quality bit actually adds to the DIY flavor of the conversations and music. The extensive extra’s include Guy Clark playing “Desperadoes Waiting For A Train,” “Country Morning Breeze” and “Old Flynn’s Boat.” Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty.” John Hiatt’s “One For The One.” Steve Earle’s “Darling Commit Me” and “Mercenary Song” Rodney Crowell’s “Young Girl’s Hungry Smile” and Steve Young covering “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

If you’re not a fan of this music and these guys the movie might be boring and plodding for you. There’s not much here aside from great music and a brief, intimate portrayal of the men that created it.

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